Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

November 10, 2012

Panthers miss playoffs with loss to Crisp

AMERICUS — The Americus-Sumter Panthers needed two things to go their way on Friday night in order to make the playoffs as the Region 1-AAAA four seed. After losing a tough game to Dougherty County last week, the Panthers needed Monroe to beat Worth County, and they needed to defeat a struggling Crisp County team at home on Friday night. Monroe did their part by defeating Worth County 31-14, but the Panthers lost a 7-6 halftime lead and fell to the Cougars from Crisp 14-7 to end their season in heart-breaking fashion.

Americus-Sumter fell behind early as Crisp took an 6-0 lead on a touchdown and a missed extra point in the first quarter, but the Panthers would battle back to gain the lead 7-6 late in the second quarter. With 6:39 remaining in the first half, Jonathon Thomas found a hole and sprinted 25 yards into the end zone for the touchdown. Dylan Morgan’s extra point would give the Panthers a 7-6 lead as the teams headed into the halftime break.

Unfortunately for the Panthers they would never be able to get the offense into another rhythm, and the touchdown by Thomas would be the last score of the year for Americus-Sumter.

The Panthers would recover a fumble on the Cougars first offensive possession of the second half, but would quickly be forced into a fourth down situation where they would come up short to turn the ball over. The defense for Americus-Sumter would stand tall to force a punt, but the Panthers would fumble the punt and Crisp would pick it up going into the end zone to take a 12-6 lead.

After trading several punts the Panthers threatened late in the game, but Thomas was stopped on fourth and one with 4:13 left in the final quarter to give Crisp the ball back. The Cougars would drive down the field before stalling out and punting with only 15.8 seconds left in the game. With four seconds left in the game deep in their own territory, Panther quarterback Bryce Benton would be sacked in his own end zone trying to make a play for a safety to end the game and the season for Americus-Sumter with a 14-7 loss.

Panther head coach Chris Wade, who stepped into the head coaching role when Michael Pollock was fired, summed up the season saying, “With everything that went on it was a tough situation for the kids. All we wanted was a chance to get into the playoffs because once you get in anything can happen. We are losing 15 seniors and in the off-season we need to figure out what to tweak in how we operate so that we don’t lose to teams that we should be better than.”

Americus-Sumter finished the 2012 season with a 4-6 overall record and a 2-5 record in Region 1-AAAA play. The Panthers biggest challenge in 2013 will be replacing three graduating offensive linemen. However, Americus-Sumter has a lot of talent in the offensive skill positions returning as well as eight defensive starters, so you can expect a very strong Panther team next season.

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